There have been reports of sightings of two escaped murderers who are on the run after an audacious jailbreak from a New York prison.

Richard Matt, 48, and David Sweat, 34, escaped from the maximum security Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, 20 miles (32km) from the Canadian border on June 6.

A major search was launched for the prisoners in the town of Willsboro after a member of the public reported seeing two men walking down the street, acting suspiciously.

A senior official from Willsboro confirmed officers are scouring farms and fields around the town which is 30 miles south of the upstate New York prison.

Shaun Gillilland, the town supervisor of Willsboro, told the Wall Street Journal a citizen reported "two suspicious men walking down a very rural road in the southern part of our town in the middle of a driving rain storm".

"When the car this person was in approached, they took off into the fields," he added.

Mr Gillilland told Sky News: "As you can imagine with these two individuals and their history, the state police are not going to take any tip less than very seriously. So they reacted last night, in the middle of the night and today more and more law enforcement showed up and searched further."

In scenes reminiscent of the 1994 movie The Shawshank Redemption, the two men were not present in the cells for a Saturday morning bed check. It was later revealed that they had drilled through the steel walls of the prison after hatching an elaborate plot. After crawling down a catwalk, they broke through a brick wall, cut their way into and out of a steam pipe and then sliced through a chain and lock on a manhole cover while making their escape.

They even left behind a mocking note to their prison wardens which read: "Have A Nice Day".

Authorities said they did not know how the pair acquired the power tools to drill through the walls sparking concerns that they may have been helped by someone in the prison.

New York State Police have now confirmed that a female prison worker was being questioned as a possible accomplice.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said investigators were focusing on civilian employees at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora - rather than guards.

He told CNN: "We're looking at the civilian employees now and the private contractors to see if possibly a civil employee or contractor was assisting the escape because they wouldn't have equipment on their own, that's for sure. I'd be shocked if a correction guard was involved in this, but they definitely had help. Otherwise, they couldn't have done this on their own."

The woman is reported to have worked with Sweat and Matt tailoring clothing at the prison.

Matt, was serving 25 years to life for three counts of murder, kidnapping and robbery after he beat a man to death in 1997.

Sweat was serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for the murder of a sheriff's deputy.

A huge road and air police search has since been mounted to trace the two convicts described as "dangerous".